INDIA: OUTGOING PRESIDENT PRATIBHA PATIL LEAVES MERCY PETITIONS OF 16 CONVICTS FOR NEW PRESIDENT
July 22, 2012: Pranab Mukherjee, a veteran from the ruling Congress party, was elected by national and state lawmakers as the 13th President of India. Among the un-cleared files that outgoing President Pratibha Patil has left on his table are the mercy petitions of 16 death row inmates, including Mohammad Afzal Guru, convicted for the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001.
In most of these cases, the Home Ministry (MHA) sent its recommendation on the mercy pleas more than once. For instance, in the case of Gurmeet Singh, the MHA first recommended his mercy plea on 18 May 2007 and then again on 9 December 2009.
President Patil was the most merciful of all presidents during the last three decades as she commuted death sentences of 38 petitioners to life imprisonment during her tenure, which is over 90 per cent of the total pardon granted.
In 2008, Patil had asked the government to review all the mercy petitions. Accordingly, the MHA sent 55 mercy petitions involving 32 cases to the Presidentâs Secretariat since November 2009.
Among those whose mercy petitions were rejected by Patil were Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar of Punjab, convicted for plotting terror attacks; Mahendra Nath Das of Assam, convicted for a murder in 1996; and Murugan alias Sriharan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A G Perarivalan alias Arivu, convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. (Sources: The Indian Express, 22/07/2012)